March 5, 2010

Sea Breeze

A young man opens the door and walks into the room, dimly lit and almost empty, and goes to find a seat at the bar. Another man sits at the bar, where a few empty glasses sit. The man straddles the bar stool beside the old man, removing his suit jacket and loosening his tie. The bartender approaches. The man orders.
"I'll have a bourbon on the rocks, please."
"Coming right up."
The man looks around the place, kinda smoky and certainly a dive. He looks at the old man beside him, who hasn't moved a muscle since he walked in. The man is sitting; leaning on the bar with his elbows, staring at his drink. A tall glass with a little light red liquid still in the bottom. Lime rinds float on top and a straw sticks out of the glass. The newer patron speaks to him.
"Hello, there. How're you doing this evening?"
The old man seems to not notice. The young man leans in and looks around the other fellow.
"Hello, there. How's it going?"
"Oh, I'm alright," he almost screams.
The young man jumps. He gives the older patron another look over. The bartender returns with the bourbon and sets it on the bar in front of the man.
"Do you come to this bar often?"
The old man doesn't move.
"Do you frequent this bar often," the young man repeats. Again, nothing but silence from the old man. The young man frowns, picks up his drink and his jacket and moves a few bar stools down the bar.
"Everyday," the old man croaks.
The man again looks around the bar. There are four other people in the bar and nobody seemed to have heard the other man's rather loud and delayed outburst. The young man moved closer to the old man and began to sip his drink.
The old man leans forward and takes a long pull on his straw, sucking up the remaining liquid and creating a loud sucking sound. He spits the straw out of his mouth.
"I've been coming to this bar everyday for the last 34 years. Its the only way I get away from my wife, Carla. She's a nagging brutish woman. I come here to get out the house. And by the time I head home again, I'm much more adjusted to deal with her antics."
The young man looks around the bar again. The old man stared straight ahead as he spoke and still very loudly and shrill.
"That certainly seems like a good reason to get out of the house. I'm just off from work myself."
The old man sits there, unflinchingly. His head suddenly bobs in what could have been a nod had it not stopped where it didn't begin. The young man reacts, moving to catch him as though the old man was falling to the floor, but he stays seated and upright. The old man remains calm.
"I've just finished with a big case today and I wanted to come out and unwind a bit. Have a few...," he trails off.
"Tommy, I'll have another Sea Breeze. With gin. Sea Breeze with gin this time, Tommy," the old man barks.
The bartender comes and removes the older patron's glass. The young man looks at the bartender and the bartender shoots him an empty glimpse back before turning away. The young man turns and looks around the bar. Nobody moves and it was quiet except for the the hum of a refrigerator, the ceiling fans and the bartender preparing a drink. The young man turns back to the bar and sips half his bourbon.
"You must be celebrating then," the old man yells. "This is an alright place to unwind in. I've been unwinding here for 34 years. To get away from my wife, of course."
The bartender brings the older patron's drink, a milky-bright red liquid with lime on top.
"Sea Breeze with gin, Abraham. Here ya go."
The bartender sits the glass in front of the older patron and walks away. The old man remains unmoved. The young man picks up his jacket and his drink and moves to his second bar stool. He takes a few sips of his bourbon.
"Thank you, Tommy. How about a toast, to celebrate your work tonight," the old man squawks.
The young man looks down at the wood on the bar. He inhales deeply, looks up and around the bar. Flies are humming in the air near a trashcan. The old man sticks his arm out and grabs his Sea Breeze. The young man stands up and comes over to the old man.
"To your work: may good work always come to a close and lead to good associations. To drinking while associating and drinking always following good work," the old man somehow screeches.
The young man smiles and taps his bourbon to the old man's Sea Breeze. The old man wavers and unsteadily holds onto his drink, spilling a bit of the liquid from his glass on the bar. He raises his glasses up and takes the straw in his mouth. Each man takes a long drink. The young man quaffs the whiskey and places his empty bourbon glass on the bar. The bartender approaches the young man. The old man remains sipping through his straw. He finally finishes sipping and sits his glass, almost half full, awkwardly back on the bar.
"I'll have another bourbon," the young man says to the bartenders. "Thanks. That was a fine toast. Appropriately capped off the..."
"My name is Abraham," the old man bounds.
"My name is Rick. Nice to meet you, Abraham."
The old man turns and looks at the young man. He looks at the young man in astonishment, then screws his face up disgusted and shakes his head in disbelief. The old man looks to be staring through the young man. The bartender brings another bourbon. The old man turns back and, leaning back on the bar again, sips his drink. The young man sits quietly and sips half of his bourbon. The old man spits out his straw.
"Its nice to meet you too, Rick. I haven't had a drinking partner since I can't remember."
"Its no problem, Abraham."
The young man looks around the bar again and glances down at his watch. The young man motions to the bartender to come over and hands him some cash. The young man lifts his drink and swills the rest of the glass.
"Abraham, I've got to run. It was nice to meet you. Thanks for the camaraderie. Maybe I'll see you around."
The young man looks at the old man, staring ahead, motionless. The young man stands up, puts on his jacket and starts walking towards the door.
"Well, alright, Rick. It was nice to meet you also. I'm going to go home to my wife, Carla. Maybe tonight will be the night. See you around, Rick."
The young man walks out and the bar once again grows silent.

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